Modern Pensées

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Archive for the ‘Evangelicalism’ Category

Evangelicals: Now is Not the Time to Spike the Football

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David Green, Hobby Lobby CEO, David Green with Bible in warehouse, Culture Wars, Abortifacients, Obamacare, Affordable Care Act

I was as happy as you were that the Supreme Court upheld the closely held corporation, Hobby Lobby’s, right to not provide coverage for the 4 abortifacients in the Affordable Care Act.  While in no way do I pretend to understand the field of law, the argumentation that closely held corporations appear, function, and act more like individuals than they do corporations made common sense to me – and hence, applying the Constitutional right to dissent to the mandatory coverage of the 4 abortifacients in Affordable Care Act seemed appropriate.

All of that said, now is not the time to spike the football.  Evangelicals cannot rely on the Supreme Court, Congress, the Senate, nor the Executive branches to make America a “Christian nation” once again.  I am pretty confident that I love America as much as you do, but the reality is that we are a post-Christian nation that is growing increasingly undiscerning.  The people/culture(s) of America lack the worldview needed to understand the logical consequences of the breakdown of gender, marriage, and the family (the most fundamental unit of society).  The people/culture(s) of America have created a Swiss cheese patchwork quilt from a variety of different worldviews to piecemeal together sets of ideas that justify their behaviors, lifestyles, sin patterns, and addictions.

In other words, we cannot rely on the federal government to be a positive agent of cultural change in America.  Cultural change happens at a wide variety of levels but politicians and bureaucrats are chameleons which change their skin color based on the popular opinion – this is why politics is more of a reflection of the culture(s) rather than the driver of the culture(s).   Evangelicals have a Herculean task ahead of them to engage the drifting, aimless, and anesthetized conglomeration of sub-cultures that comprise this thing we call the United States of America.

Culture flows out of people’s wants and desires.  People’s wants and desires flow out of their hearts.  If you want cultural change then you have to see changed hearts.  If you want changed hearts then you must see the Holy Spirit remove the heart of stone and replace it with the heart of flesh.  If you want the Spirit to move then you must pray for Him to move and you must be faithful to share the Gospel winsomely, clearly, and boldly.  I am not saying don’t vote, or don’t engage politically; however, we cannot lobby or legislate people into the Kingdom of God.

 

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Best Links of the Week

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The Shire - Lord of the Rings Fake Travel Poster

Great fake travel posters made by artist Ali Xenos.  There are some great ones of Rivendell, Tatooine, Dagobah, and Winterfell.

Kevin DeYoung on the New-Calvinism

‘Gravity’ Spinoff: Watch the Other Side of Sandra Bullock’s Distress Call – Jonas Cuaron’s seven-minute companion short, filmed in Greenland and featuring Bullock’s voice

Brutal personal piece on about one young man’s battle with our present culture of death – “I Lost My Daughter to the Culture of Death

Modalimy – Co-parenting for those that want children but not a relationship or marriage.  You really cannot make this stuff up.

Nelson Mandela:  A Candid Assessment” – from Catholic site Crisis Magazine

Interesting piece from personal finance blog Mr. Money Mustache entitled, “Get Rich With:  The Position of Strength.”  Makes some salient points.

Woofmaker.com – just click on it, especially if you are a Home Alone fan.

Interesting piece in the Atlantic dealing with Clickbait and UpWorthy’s game changing headlines

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1E-9Z8sFyRs#t=303

Best Links of the Week

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The End of Church Planting?  Interesting article that isn’t as provocative as the title.  Definitely worth a read and a place at the table for missiological theory of church planting, challenging the dominant paradigm of the entrepreneurial paid pastor/planter.

How to use rewards/frequent-flyer credit cards to create a self-fulfilling profit loop (buy certain gold coins, get rewards/miles, deposit gold in bank, pay off credit card with gold deposited into bank).

Third Millennium Ministries has its own iPhone and Android apps.  The content of ThirdMill is truly top shelf.  I am of the opinion that Third Mill is probably one of the most important ministries of our time and all on a shoestring budget.  If you care at all about the Gospel and the future of the church you ought to donate to them.  I am thankful that there are actually some forward thinking strategists that are creating excellent scalable content capable of penetrating that glaring lack of theological training of pastors worldwide.

The Decline of the Nuclear Family.  Some pretty staggering statistics and commentary on the status of family in the U.S.

Mayim Bialik (Blossom, Amy Farrah Fowler) of Big Bang Theory is actually a PhD and published in Neuroscience (HT: BL)

Mortgage companies are still ‘robo-signing’

Centrist Tom Coburn has an interesting debt proposal – I was definitely not expecting a proposal from one of the ‘Gang of Six’

77 year old Congressman confronts gun wielding intruder

An interesting piece giving some provocative thoughts regarding the Cosmological Argument

There are several layers of awesome to this Pepsi ad (coming from a staunch Coca-Cola fan):

When “Believing the Gospel” Doesn’t Work

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I wanted to re-post something that Chuck DeGroat wrote earlier this week on his blog, The New Exodus.  I think this is a pretty important discussion that needs to happen amongst the New Calvinism.  Reductionism is dangerous and it hurts people.  Legalism is dangerous and it enslaves people.

When “Believing the Gospel” Doesn’t Work

Maybe you’re like the many men and women who I’ve talked to.  Having been through Sonship (a fairly well-known discipleship program in conservative Reformed circles) or having digested the writings of Keller or Powlison or Tripp, your still struggling.  Or, maybe your version of “believing the Gospel” came from a preacher who told you that the answer to your lifetime of guilt was greater “Gospel depth” or deeper “Gospel transformation.”  And so, you searched high and low for that newer and better way, the Gospel way, only to try to believe better and repent better and be less guilty.  And that, too, didn’t amount to much.

Just recently, I was talking to yet another person whose digested all the writings and listened to all the sermons and read all the tweets, and ‘Gospel repenting and believing’ isn’t working.  He went through Sonship.  And each time he talked to his Gospel phone coach, he’d confess his latest idol.  “I’m justifying myself through my attempts to repent better, and repentance is now my idol.  So, I’m repenting of my repentance, but I’m still neck deep in feelings of guilt.  What’s wrong with me?”

“Gospel Tweeting” is the latest phenomenon.  The answer to all our problems is this:  Just believe the Gospel!  If it was that easy. This seems to me to be the newest quick fix, the most recent Christian cliche, and I’m growing weary of it.  I’ve counseled people who’ve done the full Sonship workout only to be more racked with guilt than ever.  They are repenting of their failed repenting and repenting of their failed attempt to confess their failed repenting.  They’re more twisted in guilt than ever.  And the ‘Gospel Twittersphere’ isn’t helping.

This is oversimplified Calvinism.  Period.  It doesn’t take the complexity of sin seriously enough, though it claims to in every way.  It doesn’t take it seriously because it oversimplifies the remedy, leaving troubled and struggling people feeling even worse.  Gospel counselors tell people that their troubles amount to a failure to believe the Gospel.  Freedom is available, we’re told.  Just repent and believe! Over and over, preachers are trying to boil this down to 140 characters on Twitter.  And I think it’s Gospel arrogance.

The problem is that we’re far more complex and psychologically broken that we’re often aware of.  It’s not just “unbelief” that bears down on us.  It’s a whole host of things – neural pathways grooved by years of living a certain way, a “divided heart” that thrives on its habitual polarities, weakness of will, and the extraordinary brokenness manifesting in the systems we inhabit, whether in our families or workplaces or churches.  And if I’m not being pessimistic enough, consider John Calvin’s words:

“But no one in this earthly prison of the body has sufficient strength to press on with due eagerness, and weakness so weighs down the greater number that, with wavering and limping and even creeping along the ground, they move at a feeble rate. Let each one of us, then, proceed according to the measure of his puny capacity and set out upon the journey we have begun. No one shall set out so inauspiciously as not daily to make some headway, though it be slight. Therefore, let us not cease so to act that we may make some unceasing progress in the way of the Lord. And let us not despair at the slightness of our success; for even though attainment may not correspond to desire, when today outstrips yesterday the effort is not lost. Only let us look toward our mark with sincere simplicity and aspire to our goal; not fondly flattering ourselves, nor excusing our own evil deeds, but with continuous effort striving toward this end: that we may surpass ourselves in goodness until we attain to goodness itself. It is this, indeed, which through the whole course of life we seek and follow. But we shall attain it only when we have cast off the weakness of the body, and are received into full fellowship with him” (Institutes, 3.6.5 or pp. 1:689)

But the problem extends beyond understanding the complexity.  It’s the cure that is far more difficult.  Having counseled too many men and women who beat themselves up for not growing fast enough by repenting and believing, I’m convinced we do many people a disservice (and harm!) by oversimplifying both the problem and the cure.  Those fearful of modern psychology need to begin listening at this point, because what we’ve found is that growth and maturity isn’t found in a method or a discipline or a repentance exercise.  In fact, growth is harder, longer, more painful, and more puzzling than many of us care to admit.  People who we serve in the church would like microwavable strategies, but the fact is that growth and maturity isn’t microwavable.  It defies programs and methods.  It frustrates the most competent pastor or therapist or spiritual director.  And, it can’t be captured in a tweet, even a well-formed Gospel tweet.

I admire the hearts of my friends out there who attempt to tweet Gospel cures.  They mean well.  Most are pastors, and you know who you are.  And I really do like you a lot.  But, hear me when I say that people are suckers for your 140 word fixes.  Why do you think you get re-tweeted so much?  We’re suckers for remedies and methods.  We love a sound byte.  But I’m asking you to step back and consider the complexity.  Do you really see people growing that quickly in your churches?  Do you really see ‘Gospel transformation’ happening in a “repent and believe” moment?  I’m prone to think that this is where we need a good dose of those old stories, like Pilgrim’s Progress, that highlight the long and difficult journey.  Because most people I know don’t find that the methods work.  Most people I talk to struggle day to day just to believe, just to utter a one word prayer, just to avoid another outburst of anger or another deluge of cynicism. Most people find that it takes a lifetime to believe that they are the prodigal who is lavished with a Father’s prodigious love.

Gospel tweeters:  Relax.  You are far more screwed up than you think.  And your cure is far too simplistic to help.  This journey requires more than a 140 characters of Gospel happy juice.  A big and good God requires a long and difficult Exodus journey for real change to happen.

Love Wins and the Jabez Effect

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I hesitate to even write this brief diatribe as it is probably self-defeating to my central thesis.

Eleven years ago a book swept through evangelicalism like wildfire, Bruce Wilkinson’s, “The Prayer of Jabez.”  You probably have two or three copies of it somewhere in your home, perhaps on your D-List portion of your bookshelf or propping up the wobbly leg of your washing machine.  Multnomah Publishers love targeting easily marketable groups within evangelicalism, usually parachurch ministries, who have members that are peppered across a large cross-section of evangelicalism.  At that time, I recall tons of folks reading the book within Campus Crusade for Christ and my local church at the time.  The book had reached and crossed several tipping points.

I have a half-baked thesis that the reason Jabez reached those tipping points was because a large subset of those reading the book, were reading it with the primary goal of dissecting it for content. In short, when a book gets a wide read, principally for people looking to respond or react to the text rather than for the enjoyment of the book itself, I call this the Jabez Effect.  Some other books perhaps fall under this category – The Shack, and The Da Vinci Code (when read by those within evangelicalism).

I think reading/writing about some of these books can be a slippery slope at times.  On the one hand, they need responded to but sometimes the unintended consequence of gaining traction and publicity results.  Remember the old advertising mantra, “no publicity is bad publicity.”

Hence, I will not be reading Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins.”  I haven’t read any of his other books and I won’t be reading this one.  Plenty of people way more thoughtful than I will weigh in on this and I just don’t have the time to read and respond to some rehashed and dumbed down Schleiermacher/Tillich.  Reading such things makes me bored and angry (and yes, more angry than this diatribe).

I don’t know how to solve the potential paradox of responding/not-responding to books like this.  I am not sure if I can really come up with a rubric for who needs to engage and when it is wise for them and/or myself to engage in these matters.

I wonder how many books Bell will sell on the merit of the negative reaction from the blogosphere, and neo-calvinist detractors.

(But hey, in case you do read it, make sure to click through my link so I can get my 3% or whatever from amazon)

 

Best Links of the Week

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Salon.com founder Laura Miller has a scathing, yet sadly true, piece on the status of the Bible amongst evangelicals:  “The Rise and Fall of the Bible

American Christians buy millions of Bibles they seldom read and don’t understand.

Mubarak evidently fell into a coma after leaving Cairo.  Does this mark anyone else as strange?

2010 Income Statement for the U.S. Government (58% of budget for entitlement programs [SS, Medicare/Medicaid/Unemployoment; 20% defense spending]).

Radio program claims they have revealed Coco-Cola’s secret formula.  Apparently, the secret ingredient “Merchandise 7x” consists of alcohol, orange oil, lemon oil, nutmeg oil, coriander, neroli and cinnamon.

Doug Wilson has a nice piece on collective bargaining.

So You are Thinking of Going to Seminary?”  A brief and well-written piece by Kevin DeYoung weighing in on those considering seminary.  Certainly some golden advice here that could help you from wasting a lot of time, money, and energy OR help you maximize the most of your opportunity.

Interesting piece on Sarah Palin and feminism.

Bernie Madoff accuses federal government of being a Ponzi Scheme (and I can’t say I really disagree with him).

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are going away and the PIMCO CEO wants to raise rates on 30 year mortgages by 3% across the board.

How you can be praying for Christians in Egypt.

How Much Information Did God Put in Your DNA?”  (HT:  Justin Taylor and Joe Carter)

U.S. debt is now equal to value of the U.S. economy.

Excellent brief biography by Tim Challies on Eric Liddell – part one and part two.

The fallacy of green job creation.

Denny Burk points out some interesting inconsistencies between fetal abortion and fetal surgery.  It does become a bit absurd that doctors will both fight to save and fight to end babies in the same stage of pregnancy.

Paradigm shift coming in domain name suffixes.

Every now and then I read a really interesting Wikipedia article, this is one such article:  “Voynich Manuscript

Some really fascinating art:  The Book Surgeon

Anyone who surfs knows this is unbelievable – Surfing Kickflip:

Best Links of the Week

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Incredible story of a geological statistician who figured out the algorithm of winning certain lottery scratch off tickets.

Apparently a higher up Google executive, turned spokesperson for Egyptian opposition group is now missing.  Strange.

Microsoft scandal of Bing copying Google’s search results.

An Open Letter to Evangelicals and Other Interested Parties: The People of God, the Land of Israel, and the Impartiality of the Gospel

The Arab Revolution and Western Decline

Excellent piece by Doug Wilson entitled, “Gravitron Fairies

Christianity Today on the debate of Bible translation how far to go in contextualization into Arabic

U.S. gives secrets about British Trident class nuclear submarines in order to secure nuclear arms deal with Russia.

Kevin DeYoung makes a brief yet cogent case that the principle difference between Liberal Protestants, Evangelical Protestants, and Roman Catholics is their view of Scripture.

91 year old man and his 82 year old wife successfully stand against a robber in their home.  These kinds of folks amaze me… the kind of folks that made this country great.  We need more like them.

Online Universities are future of education says Bill Gates.

A Typical Day of Air Traffic:

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